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Interactive Learning and Teaching in a Digital Age

As technology continues to evolve, e-learning has become an increasingly “promising alternative to traditional classroom learning” as it provides students with learning materials “quickly, effectively, and economically” (Chuang & Shen, 2008). Currently, there are countless online courses, video sharing platforms, blog posts, and digital textbooks available to facilitate online learning in a wide variety of subjects. Educational video content, in particular, is toted as “a rich and powerful medium being used in e-learning” today, and “the emergence of non-linear, interactive digital video technology allows students to interact with instructional video” in meaningful ways (Chuang & Shen, 2008). It is believed that these learning resources may “enhance learner engagement, and so improve learning effectiveness” (Chuang & Shen, 2008).

In order to better understand the concept of interactive learning and its effectiveness, I studied a free video available on YouTube titled “How the Economic Machine Works by Ray Dalio”. This video is currently being used as a learning resource in my own course, which is designed to teach students how the economy works at an introductory level. Naturally, as an educator and learning designer, I was curious to study this video in order to determine how it may facilitate interactive learning specifically when used within my course. This also provided me with an opportunity to pinpoint any areas where it may be possible to improve upon my current learning design should this video not be working optimally for my student’s interactive learning needs.

As discussed by Moore (1989), “There are three different ways learners can interact when studying”.

1. Interaction with learning materials

2. Interaction between students and teacher

3. Student – student interaction

As an educator, my main goal is to provide students with an interactive education that first and foremost encourages them to effectively learn the core requirements of my course. However, as a learning designer, my secondary goal is to ensure that the course materials/resources I utilize will facilitate student curiosity and encourage them to make deeper educational connections that go far beyond the core learning goals of my course. Upon review of this video, I have developed several suggestions to implement into my course learning design after noting that there are numerous ways that we, as educators, can increase the interactivity of this video and ultimately improve student learning.

As an educator, I would insist that the following changes be made in order to improve the interactivity of this video:

1. Break the video up into smaller subtopics. This can be done by giving students timestamps for where they should start and stop watching the video.

  • When watching a short video clip, students are provided an opportunity to interact with the learning material in a ‘reflective’ manner.

2. Students should be provided with a quick multiple-choice quiz after watching a small segment of the video.

  • This will provide feedback to students regarding their comprehension in a specific educational area before moving onto the next concept

3. Teachers should provide students with questions about the educational content of the video in a way that encourages critical thinking.

  • On a public forum, such as YouTube, this could be achieved by asking students to comment their response to the video/questions publicly in the comment section
  • Additionally, this would not only be a student-teacher interaction, but also a student-student interaction as educators could encourage their students to read the critical responses of students and respond in-kind with their own critical thinking

Upon review, I noticed that students are  likely to respond to the video on their own in the following ways:

1. Students are likely to experience learner-learner interactions, learner-materials interactions, and learner-teacher interactions.

  • For example, students may take notes to summarize key topics outlined in the video and then question how the newly learned information relates to their everyday choices as a consumer.

2. Learners may also read through the publicly displayed comment threads within the videos comment forum

  • This exposes students to additional information related to the videos subject matter being shared by other viewers.
  • This also encourages students to question what they are learning and actively build upon their knowledge base, out of curiosity, by making connections to topics not specifically mentioned within the video

3. Students have the opportunity to post questions they may have in the comment form.

  • These questions could be directly related to the content of the video, or may only use the video as a launching pad to question distantly related topics – ultimately creating a spider-web effect where students are making multiple connections between their own knowledge base, the knowledge presented in the video, and the knowledge/experience of their fellow peers and viewers within the comment section below.

Going forward the video could have been designed to generate more, or better, activity from viewers or students in the following ways:

1. It would be helpful for the video to pose questions to the viewers that encourage learners to make connections to additional knowledge and learning sources.

2. It would also be helpful if the video (either directly within the video or in the description box) would have provided students with additional ways to continue their learning after watching the video.

  • Perhaps the video would link students to blogs and articles containing peripheral knowledge, or more in-depth courses, to broaden the student’s knowledge base and curiosity on the subject material.

3. It would also be great if this video was available in various formats to be more inclusive of all abilities.

  • For example, blind students may not fully benefit from the animations in this video in the same way that fully sighted students may benefit. In order to address this, the video should be offered in the described video format.


Chuang, H. M., & Shen, C. C. (2008, July). A study on the applications of information-sharing concepts to the teaching in elementary school. In 2008 International Conference on Machine Learning and Cybernetics (Vol. 1, pp. 174-179). IEEE.

Moore, M. G. (1989). Three types of interaction.

Inquiry Based Learning

As presented by the Government of Ontario in their Capacity Building Series, “Inquiry-based learning is an approach to teaching and learning that places students’ questions, ideas and observations at the center of the learning experience” (2013). The basic premise of this learning design is to encourage both students and their educators to share responsibility throughout the learning process (Government of Ontario, 2013). Throughout this process educators actively work to ensure that the educational environment is one where students are deeply supported and openly encouraged to go beyond basic educational requirements and deeply question all that they are being taught. This moves students from a “position of wondering to a position of enacted understanding and further questioning” (Scardamalia, 2002).  

This process often requires students to be “creative problem-solvers” and engage in “evidence-based reasoning” (Government of Ontario, 2013). As educators, we aim to do this by providing ample opportunity for the students of our course to move beyond their initial curiosity and into a state of inquiry. We do this in our course by finding creative ways of presenting subject material to our students (i.e. video, blog posts, or more formal readings in textbooks and articles). We also do this by encouraging students to learn at their own pace, and through a flexible online platform to provide them the freedom and ability to explore their curiosities throughout the entire duration of the course.

Some additional examples of how we encourage inquiry-based learning in our course are:

  • Encourage students to discuss core learning material as well as peripheral learning material with instructors
  • Encouraging students to engage online with classmates, in online forums, about core course material and peripheral learning material
  • Encouraging students to actively seek out, and then share, peripheral leaning material with classmates freely within our online forums
  • Encouraging students to question what they are learning and how it may be applied to different situations within their everyday lives


Government of Ontario. (2013). Capacity building series.

Scardamalia, M. (2002). Collective cognitive responsibility for the advancement of knowledge. Liberal education in a knowledge society, 97, 67-98.

Peer Review for Pod 2 Interactive Learning Resource

To begin this review I want to simply say thank you for putting a great deal of time and energy into the development of this learning resource. After taking some time to work through your learning resource, it is clear to me that you have designed your course in a very thoughtful and well-organized manner. In order to clearly articulate my thoughts, I have structured my review of your work into several sections – a general overview of my experience using your learning resource, the outstanding aspects of your learning resource in my opinion, and the areas where I believe your learning resource could be improved. I followed along with the criteria provided by our Professor, Colin Madland, in order to pinpoint any areas of concern. Additionally, I have provided you with my personal experience, as a student, using your resource for the first time. I hope that this review is helpful in the further development of your learning resource, and please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any further questions regarding my review.

As a 25-year-old, able-bodied, university-educated native English speaker, I did have a general understanding of Parallel Structures (Parallelism) prior to using your learning resource. However, my knowledge of this concept was topical at first, as I understood in theory how to utilize Parallelism within my everyday sentence structures; however, I would not be able to identify Parallelism or define it if asked. Your learning resource provided me with an opportunity to learn the foundational aspects of this grammar concept in a clear, concise, and easy to follow manner. Because of the simplicity and organization of your learning design, as well as the ease with which I was able to navigate your website and resources, I personally enjoyed learning about this topic and was able to complete all required learning and assessments within a reasonable timeframe. I would like to encourage you to continue developing your learning resource, potentially as a means of teaching Parallelism in a more in-depth way, or at an advanced level for students once they have completed your introductory course, as it has already proved to be extremely helpful for me as a student. I might suggest that you elaborate upon your course even further in the months or years to come – possibly by teaching additional grammar concepts. I feel as though you really have done an outstanding job just teaching Parallelism on its own and I see significant potential for your learning design going forward.

You did an excellent job of providing students with an overview of your learning resource. The information you provided on your homepage regarding how to navigate through the website was easy to follow and proved to be very helpful when I first landed on your site. I often struggle to understand online course layouts when they appear to be cluttered or overwhelming. Therefore, I wanted to note that I found it particularly helpful that you chose to keep the information clear and concise on your landing page and outlined all important links (like the course outline, the about section, and where to find your lesson) in a bracketed clickable text. I think the ease of navigation throughout your entire website will ensure many more students are able to succeed in your course. Great Job!

I think your decision and rationale for choosing Direct Instruction in this learning resource was spot on. Especially when teaching this multi-layered grammar concept, it is essential for educators to break down the concept into smaller pieces and only allow students to move forward once they have a comprehensive understanding of what is being taught. Your assessments allow Direct Instruction to really take hold in this course. From simply identifying Parallelism in the non-graded quiz, to writing a blog post that uses Parallelism, and them responding to and identifying where classmates utilize Parallelism, your assessments clearly encourage students to follow a Direct Instruction approach to their learning.

As an educator, I acknowledge that it can be challenging to plan lessons and develop course timelines as the proficiency of our students in regards to our subject material can vary greatly across demographics. This can become a very notable struggle for learning designers when developing a course that accommodates students from a wide variety of backgrounds with diverse learning needs, such as yours. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I was unable to find any information regarding how long each activity should take students to complete and when they should be moving onto the next assessment. Might I suggest that you include this information for students? Because your course is highly specialized in one particular English grammar concept, you may want to consider the English language proficiency of each student when developing this timeline. This will ensure that your learning design supports all student needs by allowing students to work through the course at a pace that is proportional to their proficiency. In my opinion, this will lead to greater learning success for students within your course.

On another note, might I suggest that you provide students with a more robust grading rubric that potentially includes a plan for when and how students can expect to receive feedback from teachers? While this is not necessary to adjust, just simply a note I made in response to my experience in your course, I feel as though it would be extremely helpful for students to know when and how to expect feedback as an indicator of their performance. When building a learning design heavily centered around Direct Instruction, I worry that students will not know if it is appropriate to move onto the next assessment unless performance feedback is received!

To continue on, your course outline was clear and displayed all the necessary information. I feel as though your learning outcomes were well-articulated, and are achievable by students who are working through your course. I really appreciate how your learning outcomes and assessments encourage interactive learning not only between students and the material but also between students and their peers. Your unique approach encourages students to interact with their classmates writing samples, and in my opinion, will serve as an incredibly effective way for students to not only learn the core subject material but will also to foster curiosity and encourage some inquiry-based learning.

I think as educators and learning designers, we can sometimes become swept up in the logistics of our course designs, and this can often make our courses feel quite rigid in their approach to learning. However, I just want to mention that your course seems to have effortlessly found a way to combine both Direct Instruction and Inquiry-Based learning in a wonderfully harmonious way. Even though your main learning design is Direct Instruction, your assessments also provide students with an opportunity to write about their passions and share in the interests of their peers. I feel as though this will ultimately lead to some great (even if unplanned for!) Inquiry-Based learning.

Moreover, I really appreciate how you focused on the importance of designing your course for students of diverse learning needs and backgrounds. As you mentioned “international language students for example, might find themselves struggling when learning an additional language” and I completely agree that this is a very likely scenario when teaching a demographic of English language learners. Might I suggest that should time permit, you may consider additional barriers that this demographic may face when working through your course? For example, if your course is available to students located outside of Canada (perhaps international students who typically reside in Canada may be looking for additional ways to further their studies while stuck outside of Canada during the current global pandemic), there may be cultural barriers such as lack of access to internet or technology due to government policy, socioeconomic status, lack of family support or access to a safe learning environment. You might also consider social, psychological, physiological barriers that may affect a student’s ability to learn such as support from peers, student’s confidence levels, any physical disabilities, etc.

On another note, perhaps you may consider refining the specifics of your learner demographic. Although I think it is helpful that you expressed that your course is designed for students in college or university, I believe it may be more helpful for potential students to understand what you mean by the terms “highly educated” and “English language learners”. For example, should students already be fully proficient in the English language, or only partially proficient? Should students be entering university or finished university? Additionally, how will your course administrators determine if students are proficient in the English language? As we have already touched on, proficiency in subject material can vary greatly between demographics. A 13-year-old high school student may have a higher proficiency in the English language than a university-educated male in his late 50s. Therefore I think it may be helpful for students to have more detailed enrolment criteria, pre-requisite exam, or a self-assessment tool for students to use in order to determine if this course is right for them.

Overall I think you did an outstanding job on this learning design, and I have very little to critique or suggest you adjust. I learned a great deal about Parallelism within a relatively short period of time just by working through your course this afternoon. I highly suggest that you continue developing this learning design in the months and years to come as I feel as though it is one of the clearest and most organized English grammar learning designs that I have ever come across. I anticipate that this learning design has the potential to be utilized by native English speakers in high schools across North America, just as easily as it could be used by English language learners across the globe should the potential barriers I mentioned above be addressed. As previously noted it may be helpful to consider refining the specifics of your learner demographic and possibly creating some sort of assessment to gauge if this course is appropriate for students, before they register. Overall great job, this is a stellar learning design and I hope you continue to build upon it in years to come!    

Inclusive Learning Designs and Planning for Learning Barriers

Question: Consider the learning environment for your current design. What potential barriers can be reduced or eliminated to provide more pathways for learner success?

As a learning designer, my main goal is to develop learning resources that are inclusive to individuals of various abilities and strengths. In doing so, I’m ensuring that the resources I develop will provide all learners with an equitable opportunity to succeed and meet the desired learning goals of my course.

I would argue that this is truly easier said than done. However, if careful consideration and preparation are done ahead of time, in order to determine the various ways in which learners may require support, then it is much easier to structure our learning resources in diverse ways that support our students and lead to their learning success.

I am currently developing an Interactive Learning Resource which will be presented to students primarily as an online web-based course, which relies heavily on the ability of students to have access to a computer and internet. Taking this into account, I can not help but recognize that it would be beneficial to proactively consider how a learner may be negatively impacted if they do not have access to a computer with internet at home. A few simple solutions accounting for this learning barrier could include:

  1. Loaning computers to all learners without access to a computer at home
  2. Developing our website to be accessible on smartphones and tablets
  3. Providing learners with physical copies of the course material (such as DVDs, textbooks, academic articles, physical copies of course schedules, etc.)
  4. Providing students with safe locations to access the internet (possibly through libraries or classrooms on campus)
  5. Sending students home with tablets, laptops, mobile phones with access to cellular data

Issues such as not having access to a computer and internet at home could simply be short-term situational issues (such as students computer was lost or stolen, winter storm caused severe power outages preventing students from accessing the internet + charging their device), or long-term systemic issues (such as students facing economic issues which prevent them from being able to afford educational resources like a computer and internet). However, I think it is imperative to ensure that students are always provided with ample opportunity to practice self-advocacy no matter the circumstances leading to the learning barriers they may be facing.

While this is only one example of a learning barrier that students may encounter, I aim to proactively plan and develop learning resources that are accessible to students of all diverse learning needs. As we now know, there is no such thing as an “average learner”. That’s why it is essential for us, as learning designers, to work with our students to recognize how we can advocate and plan for their diverse learning needs and develop inclusive learning designs throughout their education.

Learning, Motivation, and Theory

As someone who deeply believes in the importance of life-long learning and concurrently derives a great deal of overall personal satisfaction throughout the learning process, I consistently look for new opportunities to sharpen my skills and learn new things throughout my life. To me, there are few things more rewarding than learning or mastering a new skill – especially if I struggled at one point or another throughout the learning process.

Upon watching the video by Derek Muller I was reminded of one of the most exceptionally rewarding learning experiences I’ve had to date. 

Growing up I never considered myself to be particularly brilliant or exceptionally well-versed in mathematics, and in particular calculus. Throughout high school I struggled immensely trying to understand basic mathematical concepts, often leading to a general feeling of panic which set in as I realized I was falling further and further behind my classmates throughout the semester. I would come home after high school math class (sometimes in tears!) and spend my weekends before big exams trying to cram an entire semesters worth of educational material into my adolescent brain. I would do this by watching educational videos like Khan Academy on YouTube for hours, only to realize by Exam Day that I had actually learned any of the material.

It is safe to say that by the time I reached university and realized that I would need to successfully complete an undergraduate level calculus course in order to graduate with a BSc, I was full of anxiety and fearful that I wouldn’t be able to learn and succeed in the course. That was a huge confidence bummer for me, and despite the fact that I had developed a huge fear of failure I eventually worked up enough confidence to register for the university level Calculus course one summer. I even quit my part-time job to ensure I could dedicate every possible waking moment towards learning the course material and succeeding. It was a humbling experience, to say the least, but through this learning experience, I actually realized exactly what Derek Muller was expressing in his video – watching educational videos tended to only reinforce the incorrect beliefs I had about the subject material, instead of allowing me to actually learn the correct beliefs.

To make a long story short, I worked exceptionally hard all summer and actually ended up scoring a final grade that placed me in the top 5% of all Calculus students at my university! The dean of Mathematics actually emailed me and suggested that I consider switching my major to Mathematics. To say this experience was rewarding would be a serious understatement, but it taught me so much about myself and who I am as a student and learner. It really forced me to nail down which learning techniques worked for me, and encouraged me to adjust my learning habits as needed.

Simply put, 16 year old me did not have the insight and understanding that I do now about my needs as a student and learner. Throughout the summer that I spent learning university level calculus I recognized that, although watching these educational videos may have led to a boost of confidence (aka me assuming that I had actually learned the material), I actually was just reinforcing my incorrect understanding of certain concepts. Despite the fact that I perceived these videos to be a more enjoyable learning experience, in comparison to in class lecturing, they didn’t typically provide me with an opportunity too deeply engage with the subject material.

Through trial and error I realized that what did help me to actually learn the material, was when I would take the concept being presented in the enjoyable and easy-to-digest videos, and then verbalize out loud the concept correctly. Often times I would do this by watching a video, breaking it down into manageable segments, and then verbally teaching the concept to anyone who would listen. What I recognized early on during the calculus course was that I cannot simply learn by diffusing the knowledge directly from the video into my brain, no matter how simple the video may have made the concept seem. This reminds me of the Constructivism belief which, as suggested by Siemens (2018), “assumes that learners are not empty vessels to be filled with knowledge. Instead, learners are actively attempting to create meaning” throughout the “messy” learning process.

Ultimately we learn by actively engaging with the subject material. Although how we actively engage with the subject material will differ depending upon the student’s learning style, the key to learning alongside the use of educational videos is to find a method that allows students to actively engage with the material as they are learning it. Only then are students able to recognize that the existing beliefs they once held about a particular topic, differs from what is actually being taught, and in turn, allows students to correct their beliefs as they learn.


Siemens, G. (2018). Connectivism. In R. E. West (Ed.), Foundations of Learning and Instructional Design Technology. EdTech Books. Retrieved from https://edtechbooks.org/lidtfoundations/connectivism